Sleep less deeply and wake up more often during the
Have more trouble adjusting to changes in sleeping
conditions, such as a different bed.
Have changes in their sleep
cycle. Older adults spend less time in the most restful stages of sleep.
It's common for older adults to sleep less deeply and for less
time than they did earlier in life. But these normal changes in the sleep
patterns of older adults do not mean that the sleep they get is enough.
Brenda Della Casa had been seeing her primary care physician for two years
and had brushed off her concerns about getting rushed care - until she had a
health scare she couldn’t ignore. She told her doctor she was experiencing
terrible back pain and stomachaches. Her doctor checked her, said she was fine,
and sent her on her way.
Five days later, Della Casa, an author and dating coach in Chicago, was
traveling and had pains so severe she could barely move. When she received a
Routine poor-quality sleep
caused by health problems, medicine use, and stress from major life changes can
lead to chronic sleep problems at any age. This may increase the risk of
serious health problems, such as
depression. But few older adults get, or try to get,
treatment for sleep problems. If you are an older adult and have trouble
sleeping, talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve your
If you care for an older adult who isn't sleeping well, you
might encourage him or her to try the above tips for improving sleep.
taking sleep medicines only now and then or only for a short time. They are not
the first choice for treating chronic insomnia. This advice about medicines
applies to everyone, but especially to older adults. Anyone can become dependent on sleep medicines, and these medicines can affect how
well older people think during and after long-term use.1
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 18, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this